The number of children who have admitted to attempting suicide increased by 43 per cent in a single year, according to figures released by a charity today.
ChildLine has revealed that nearly 6,000 children had told counsellors during 2013/14 that they had attempted suicide. Online bullying is said to be a frequent cause according to a new report published by the charity today.
In total ChildLine held 34,517 counselling sessions with children who talked about suicidal thoughts – a 116 per cent increase since 2010/11.
ChildLine, which is run by the NSPCC, has joined forces with expert mental health charities in calling for a new government study into the mental health of children and young people in England and Wales.
ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen said: “We are now receiving more calls than ever before to ChildLine from children who are desperately unhappy, even to the point of wanting to end their lives.
“It is difficult to analyse the cause for this growing unhappiness, whether this is a symptom of our pressured lives, or if the isolation of many young people is due to other factors in the family.
“The fact is that more children than ever are telling ChildLine that they are beset with suicidal thoughts. These are children who would feel unable to ask for help from anyone else.
“We must learn from what they are telling us, and persuade them not to feel fearful or ashamed to tell others of their feelings.”
The report finds that 12-15 year-olds remain the most common age group to contact ChildLine about suicide, and that young people mentioned self-harm in 36 per cent of counselling sessions about suicide, a 192 per cent increase since 2010/11.
It also finds that suicidal young people frequently said they had been bullied through social networking sites. Some also told ChildLine that their suicidal feelings had been triggered by harmful content seen on websites.
The figures were released as child helplines from across the world held a summit in London.
Children can be encouraged to contact ChildLine anonymously on 0800 1111 or online at www.childline.org.uk Adults worried about a child can contact the NSPCC’s helpline 0808 800 5000 for advice and support.